||Legal aspects of property transfer in France are conducted by a Notaire. He or she works directly for the state and is responsible for seeing fair play within the transaction, making searches and overseeing the compilation of paperwork on behalf of both parties. Many buyers from the UK think that this simplifies dealings.
We are often asked whether a prospective purchaser should involve their UK solicitor in the buying process. This is a personal matter. You may feel you are safeguarding matters by using a UK based solicitor. If you do decide this step is wise for you...it is even more wise to shop around for one who is a 'Notary' in this country and especially has experience in dealing with French property exchange. Sometimes two Notaires find themselves working together on one transfer (both parties can nominate their own Notaire) if this is the case then they share just one fee. I've always thought that the first Notaire must be really annoyed at the appearance of the second! We didn't involve a UK solicitor or our own Notaire and our procedures sailed through without a hitch - but then the prices were a lot lower then and it seemed to us a very reasonable gamble to proceed with a system which is accepted as an everyday occurrence in French life. But - let the buyer beware!
It's worth mentioning here that all Immobilieres and Commercial Agents for whom A House in Normandy (A House iin Brittany Ltd) are agents have a good working relationship with the Notaires serving their catchment area.
The first legal document you will be asked to sign (having found the right house) will be a Compromis de Vente. This is a very straightforward document often in both French and English. It is simply an agreement between you and the vendor...you to buy and they to sell at the agreed price.
At this point you must provide a ten percent deposit. This can be paid by Eurocheque...A cheque drawn on a French bank account or a bank transfer to the Notaire. Following the signing by both parties of the Compromis there is a period during which the searches are carried out by the Notaire and any clauses you specifically wish to include within the sale document. These elements are, most commonly...Certificate of Urbanism (you may wish to develop the property - adding living space, converting outbuildings etc.,) this must be supported by a clause in the documentation - this will have a deadline for formal application to be made. Clause Tontine...(this is the initial step toward avoiding any inheritance tax problems you may or may not be expecting). In France when an estate is divided - it is divided equally amongst all children. Not just those of the final marrriage, but all offspring. A decision on this is obviously a personal matter and must be outlined to the Notaire via the agent (or just with the agent because the agent will most likely be qualified to handle the Compromis stage without the need for a Notaire's involvement). The searches and document preparation can take anything from 6 to 16 weeks...We have known completions to take as much as a year when all parties are in agreement (although it's unusual in a rising market). When the time for your signing has been planned you will be notified by the agent and a meeting set up to sign the documents at the Acte Finale. This is a meeting at which all parties (vendor & purchaser) may be present. Sometimes the vendor may have attended to sign at an earlier date - it could even have been done by post. It varies. But you, as purchasers, will be there with a representative from the agent who introduced you to the property. Between them they and the Notaire will lead you through the document making sure that you understand everything you are signing. Each page must be initialled by all parties present and then signed and dated on the last page by all present. At that point the property is yours and the balance of the funds are handed over in exchange for the key (if your property has a door that is)!
There are many books available which cover all aspects of French property purchase - Visit our links page to see the selection available from Amazon.com. Links